Friday, November 4, 2011

Tony Zatzick MFA '02

Tony writes, "I have resigned the position of MFA Assistant at WCSU

. I am currently running a kickstarter campaign to support the upcoming release of my new CD "A Fearless Heart".

Please help by spreading the word and asking people to share this link:

I am on tour and will be teaching a workshop and giving a sacred chant concert on 11-12-11 in Brookfield CT (see FB event links and flyers below):
All light and Blessings to you

Tony (Harnam)

Tony Zatzick
Liquitex Artist Outreach Program
C 860 946 9675
About me:

Thank you for all your hard work."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Adela Ferris '04

Adela Ferris owns AFotography in New Milford. CT. She writes, "Photography to me means passion. I have the need to carry my camera with me at all times. I enjoy capturing those most precious memories and enjoy having the ability to hold onto them forever.
Let me do the same for your memories.

I specialize in Weddings, Portraits, Children/Maternity, Nature, Commercial and of course those everyday shots. There is no limit as to how many photos I shoot in any subject."

Adela can be reached at 203.648.1587 or

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The WestConn Production Team

Peggy Stewart, Ellen Myhill and Jason Davis all graduated with a graphic design degree, Ellen in 2001 and Jason and Peggy both in 1998. Peggy is now working full time as a photographer and Jason is the director of Production and Design, with Ellen as the Assistant Director.

Peggy began in the department as a university assistant right after graduation. She was hired by Diane Golden, then director, who had graduated from the program in 1981. Peggy said the department staff has always been flexible and hard working, providing a service to the WestConn community, always using art students as interns and for assistance on various projects. She added that Sophia Duarte ’12 is her current photography assistant. The full staff works with all the departments, with Institutional Advancement and with Public Relations to determine the priorities and to ensure each project has proper staffing and will make deadline. They do a tremendous amount of work with the admissions department, focusing on campus promotions.

Peggy began as a design major and started her concentration in photography after six months. As a student, she assisted with design layouts and was the student lab tech for Bill Quinnell, then chair of photography. Peggy is excited about the continuation of the Candlewood Lake Project, a project in which the science department is working with the director of Candlewood Lake Authority (CLA), Larry Marsicano, on various research projects at of Candlewood Lake. Marsicano sees another long–term benefit from WestConn’s research the lake –training of a new generation aware of the importance of conserving precious fresh–water resources. The Production and Design staff are beginning the next phase, supplying images and working with the science faculty. Additional information can be found at

As a photographer, Peggy is now working with the with the campus camps. During the academic year, she is pulled in many directions and it is so important to have a student assistant. They also support the community. Jason and Peggy are working on a calendar as a fundraiser for a local non-profit. Peggy added, “It’s an easy way to build support for the university and contribute to the community. We have provided work for HORD,HVCA, of course the Candlewood Lake project, and for the summer have done some work for the Ives Center.” They provide a marketing piece, signage and photography for the programs.

Ellen started in the department as a student intern in 2001 and became a full time graphic designer in 2003, also working as a computer and photography assistant. She became assistant director in 2005. She works on the View Book, with the theatre department, the music department and oversees the student appointed to develop the theatre poster. She is now working on the pieces need for the late October groundbreaking of the SVPA new building. She enjoys her work because it is always different but there is also a schedule including theatre projects in September, the MFA program begins in February and the jazz festival in April. She likes that she’s specialized but the themes will always change, and always great with a variety of programs.

Ellen is proud to say she developed the 2010 View Books, with the design on a 4 year cycle. This book is provided to incoming freshmen and has to have something new and exciting with each printing. She likes to come up with new ideas. This year they used more photography than usual. It was liked by so many that the next View design will be the same. She is now working on a slide show for recruitment and will start on a piece to build on the same concept and add to it.
Ellen received a math degree in 1991 and worked in that area for seven years. She came back to school to receive her degree in graphic design.

Jason, became director of Production and Design in May 2001. He worked as a student intern in graphic design but then began working in university computing full time. He left after 1 ½ years to work at Ethan Allen as a graphic designer. When Diane retired to the Adirondacks, Jason returned to WestConn, expanding the role of the entire department. He explained that the department used to design and send materials out for production and printing. They now write, layout, print and produce mast of what is designed. He added, “Peggy’s position now being full time has allowed the department to be involved in more departments at all levels, plus doing some community projects.” The in-house production has increased immensely. Jason said, “We used to send out 95% of our work and now we send out only 25% to 30% and we always compare costs before making a decision whether to do the job in-house or outside. He explained that they can produce booklets, programs, invitations, signage and posters. They have large scale production equipment allowing for pieces up to 65” wide. He added, “We have saved hundreds of thousands out of house costs. We have increased our work load and can control our output investment over time.” Jason provided an example of the savings by explaining that when he started it would cost $15000 - $20000 to print a catalog and this year that same size catalog cost $800 using the equipment we now own. They now provide all materials for research conferences and meetings on campus.

Jason said they are now working on a spring project for WestConn soccer. It consists of an 11 piece project and only one is being done out of house. Jason says, “That is tremendous! We have 7-8 people working on the project, a true collaborative.” I am incredibly proud that the whole project is being done by our people.”

The projects are evolving again with the availability of online printing. He is again comparing costs from online print vendors, often having a better option than the department can produce. The department is now more of a resource for the campus and provides new initiatives which land on the shoulders of the staff. They have proven themselves over and over again. Each designer has quadrupled their workload over the past seven to ten years and is often working on six to eight, even ten jobs at a time.

The staff also adopts an outside project each year. Many of the organizations we work with give back to the university, but the department staff enjoys supporting the community. We are making a difference in their non-profit goals. Jason adds, “We have done some amazing stuff and it shows the community what we can do.” Jason is the dad to four girls with his wife Amy, another 1998 graduate of WestConn.
Others on staff include Irene Sherlock, Fredrica Paine, (the only non-WestConn grad) and Jane Walsh. Irene has been with the department since 1984 after receiving her degree in writing. She earned her master’s in English in 1991 and has been teaching creative writing since. She will be retiring September 1st and beginning a new career as a counselor. She is interning with MCCA to prepare for the change. Jane added, “Just about everyone who works in this department is a WestConn graduate and we are all committed to the students.” Jane received her degree in English in 1996 and works on brochures, programs, diplomas, certificates and the WestConn Report. She began in the department in 2001. An additional WestConn graduate works in the Print Shop. Connie Conway received her degree in American Studies.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dino Ianniello '95

Dino is the Principal & Executive Creative Director of Silvermoss Partners – – an Atlanta-based branding, design, web development and social media firm.

Dino studied under Western’s design program chair Terry Wells, and professors David Skora and Bill Quinnell. “When I entered the design school at Western, Terry (Wells) had just begun heading the program. I recall my first conversations with him about my future in design. He was intensely passionate about the craft and the curriculum. He really raised the bar for everyone involved,” Dino remembers.

“I had started out as a marketing major in my first two years at Western, taking many courses at the Ancell School of Business. Later in my career, I came to more fully appreciate my foundational background in business and marketing as a brand professional today.”

Dino started out working for small advertising and public relations firms in Danbury on internship, such as Penn Gardner (, then moving to Manhattan after graduation, taking design roles at the Impact Group ( and Ernst & Young ( “Early in my career, I had some exceptional mentors that really contributed to a positive experience in the agency business,” Dino recalls. “I gained a great deal of knowledge about how to manage the creative process, client expectations, and how strategy translates into design objectives. I was given considerable face-time with clients from various market verticals, helping to sharpen my consulting skills and industry expertise.”
Eventually moving to Atlanta, Dino worked his way up into more senior creative roles at various
agencies, and finally starting his own firm Silvermoss Partners in 2002. His early adoption of interactive design (web and multimedia), was well-timed with emerging trends in the field. “I remember jumping right into web design and development as early as 1996,” Dino says. “Web design software such as Adobe Dreamweaver was not available, and web browsers had no standardization with regard to how HTML was rendered on screen. I couldn’t get websites to look like I had designed them, so I buried my head in HTML books and studied.”

“Part of being a good designer is knowing your tools,” Dino emphasizes. “Typography, Layout, Photography, Writing, Illustration, Video, Audio, anything that touches the senses with regard to communication and user experience. We orchestrate these elements to speak to audiences. We simplify information so people can understand. We cut through clutter and organize data. We are problem-solvers at heart.”

Today, Dino brings all of these things to bear when dealing with his own clients. Silvermoss Partners currently serves organizations such as InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Coca-Cola, LexisNexis, Reed Elsevier, and other Fortune 1000 to mid-size companies in the


“I feel good about the work we do for our clients!” Dino exclaims. “We don’t like to label ourselves as ‘the agency’. We want our customers to feel like we are their partners, and an extension of their own company. We get embedded and personalized, so we can drive long-term value to their brand initiatives over time. In today’s economy, we have to deliver value and find ways to develop meaningful business relationships.”

Some of Dino's designs are pictured throughout the interview. To find out more about Dino and Silvermoss Partners, visit online at, on Facebook at , on Twitter at or on LinkedIn at

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Marlana (Cole) Semenza '91

Marlana is the owner and designer of MDC Enterprises, Inc, a photo styling
and interior design company.
In addition to MDC Enterprises, Marlana co-owns Amber Light Gallery, a fine art photography studio, with a long-time friend. They create Note Card Collections to express your own
sentiments featuring their unique photography. They also provide a Photographic Print Gallery in which they strive to capture the beauty
found in cities, the country
and all over the world. They offer hand-signed photographs printed on archival paper and custom matted. The prints can be purchased separately or in sets.

Marlana is pleased to report that she just signed a contract with one of the largest production companies in the world and they will be marketing her photos (for use as wall decor, posters, for print on objects, etc) in 72 countries.

Amber Light Gallery will also be participating in a fundraiser for The Connecticut Affiliate of Susan G Komen for the Cure. A percentage of all purchases made of their note card collections from September 1 through October 31 will go to breast cancer awareness and research. We can all help raise money for this cause by logging on to their site and purchasing for the cause.

Amber Light Gallery can be found on the web at

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Carol Hawkes

WestConn's former Dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts, Carol Hawkes proves inspirational in an article by Eileen FitzGerald, Danbury NewsTimes Staff Writer, published, Thursday, July 28, 2011.

Read the article on the Art Alumni website

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Maureen Kelly '91

Maureen is the owner of Pumpkin Hill Beads Maureen

writes, “I am a glass bead artist. Glass beads are my main thing, and if that's what you want, I got 'em.”

She offers a wide range of colors, patterns, shapes etc. and says, “Let me know what you like or want, and I will do my best to accommodate you.” She also has an array of bracelets, necklaces, and other finished jewelry. Custom pieces can be made as well.

Maureen says, “My love of beads, jewelry, anything that has to do with adornment, came from being able to rummage around in my grandmother's jewelry boxes. I would pick up her chunky beaded necklaces, big round bangle bracelets, and shiny brooches, dangling earrings, and precious stone rings, and play with them all day. They held such an amazement for me, I was in awe. As I got older, and started collecting pieces of my own (mostly big gaudy rhinestone jewelry, it was the ' 80s!), I knew I had found a passion. But where to take it, what to do...I didn't know until..... I went to a Grateful Dead concert, (believe it or not) and bought a beaded anklet, and earrings. I went home, took a good look at 'em, and said I can do this!, and proceeded to take them apart, writing down every stitch, every placement of a bead. well....I still went to concerts, but the earrings, necklaces, and anklets? I wasn't buying, I was making them, and selling them.
It wasn't till later on that I was at a small craft show, that I saw beads that I had never seen before. Beautiful, intricate, amazing beads. I asked the woman selling them where she had gotten them, and she said 'I made them', and I said 'get out of town!', and she proceeded to tell me about how glass beads are made, and where I could find out more. I went home, and ordered everything that you needed, set it up in my garage, and said to myself, oh my god, what did you just do. A week passed, and I finally got up the nerve to turn the torch on, and I guess you can say....the rest is history.”

Maureen lives in New Milford, CT. with her husband Joe, a gifted cabinet maker.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bridget Grady MFA '04

“December Swamp”,7”x 9”, Gouache on Paper, “The Art of Conservation 2010”,published work

Bridget Grady, a 2004 graduate of the WestConn MFA program, spent four and a half years as an assistant professor of Art at the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore ( While she was there she taught Foundation Drawing and Painting, along with developing workshops to expand the art curriculum. She has recently been awarded the Nanyang Technological University Teaching Excellence Award.

Bridget said she loved her students. “They were the highlight of the experience. They were so motivated, hard-working, and had a great respect for education”. Bridget said she learned about the culture primarily from her students.” They were so generous. They took my husband and I, all around Singapore. Invited us to their homes and honored us with the privilege of attending some family events. I can’t say enough about them”.

Living in Singapore allowed her to see things she would never see here. “Experiencing in Southeast Asia for the last four and a half years has had a significant impact on my world view. I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to many different countries, New Zealand, Bali and Sumatra, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Vietnam, and India. The first hand witnessing of the environmental, social, and economic challenges of the developing nations of Southeast Asia has just deepened my consideration of the role of the artist within these contemporary concerns”. My visual art always has been focused on nature and environment in one form or another. It is my belief that the teaching of the visual arts is an avenue where one can effectively promote sensitivity to ones environment and become an instrument for creative change. So the opportunity to live in Southeast Asia provided fertile ground to explore this more deeply.

Bridget said, “The education I’ve obtained from teaching in Singapore was like my third graduate school because it was a yet another process of thinking about and making art.”Specifically in re-defining what artists do as practiced based research. My previous studies at Norwich University were focused on critical theory, political activism, and writing, Westconn was more along the lines of developing concept from practice. My teaching at NTU was a fusion of those experiences with the addition of digital media and the moving image. The Art school was new and positioned in an engineering and science research University. Not exactly a comfortable fit in the beginning. I don’t think the engineers knew what to do with us initially. There were some growing pains for the artists and the school in relation to conforming to a research oriented mandate. “It’s not as if the concept of painting as research is new. In my opinion it is a form of research. It is just how it is contextualized”. “In order to be considered research active, artists have to ‘sell’ their practice as “legitimate” research”. A research university primarily recognizes the production of data, patents, peer reviewed publications and citations as its key performance indicators (KPI). Teaching has in the past not been heavily factored into the performance of an instructor. Work created that is not attached to a grant has also has difficulty in being recognized as research. This is especially true in the case of painters whose work may not necessarily involve developing a product for industry or the production of a peer- reviewed paper. Most of my work was self funded initially because my visual art and teaching practice didn’t involve this type of outcome at the time. For artists and painters in particular, it has been standard practice that exhibition is used as evidence of research production. As a teacher my main focus was the student’s personal growth and success, not necessarily to function as my research assistants. I was able to secure a grant for the series I was working on titled”Glut”. This body of work was an integration of my interests in the environment, consumption, agriculture, and history. By incorporating digital technology, a social science methodology, and research students I began to find a way to negotiate a bridge between the humanities and sciences.

"Conversation with Pieter and Paul”, Traditional and Digital artwork, 2010

The central piece in the “Glut” series is called the “Conversation with Pieter and Paul”. As the title suggests it is a visual discourse between two historical epochs in painting. This painting juxtaposes the compositional and narrative features of two master’s works. Gauguin’s “Where Do We Come From? Who Are We? Where Are We Going?” and 16th century painter Pieter Aertsen’s “The Butcher Stall”. The work poses questions surrounding desire, tradition, mass production and the effects of Western material culture on developing nations in Southeast Asia. . Through the studio integration of traditional, observational painting, inventive painting, digital painting, digital collage and collaged reproductions of my still life paintings, several more layers of meaning were developed. These layers revealed a sub-narrative on the history of still life painting, visual conversations between painters that crossed time, and painting technology. It was a continuation of dialogue with my previous landscape work, and desire to express questions and concerns about the condition of nature and our impact on it through the painted image. It just looked a lot different.

“Parable”, 96” x 96”, traditional and digital work ,2010

A corollary research project was started that originated from this series. It was titled “A Visual Feast” and some of the results can be found at ADM A Visual Feast (

“Century Egg”, 4” x 6”, Oil on panel, 2010

She knew at some level she wanted to make these students more aware of the connection between food, luxury food products in particular, such as meat and the impact of the growing deforestation issues that were connected to agricultural production. Bridget explained, "I lured them in with a painting project. The premise was to train them in an observational painting program that borrowed from old master’s technique and that particular platform of teaching. The project eventually took its own turn and became each students own personal research, which is the way I was frankly more comfortable with. Using my live-work space a safe environment for creative work and dialogue allowed for the traditional power structures between students and teacher to be softened. We shared traditional foods from both cultures and both parties gained insights into the everyday lives of the different cultures. The structure of the project required that the students gather personal histories from their elder family members. This is apparently not a typical practice in Singaporean culture. The paintings became invitations to dialogue with their families which allowed them to learn more about their own rapidly changing culture and in some cases their own personal family histories. This in turn was extended to a wider audience through the web platform. The project was peer-reviewed and published in the International Society of the Arts Journal 2010. The painting “Conversation with Pieter and Paul”, was included in the International Painting Annual 1 and is published by the Manifest Creative Research Center in Cincinnati. The book will be out in August."

Bridget was involved in other related areas of interest simultaneously. "I often have several projects going at the same time so it takes awhile before I have the work thought out enough to begin to show it”. Some of the work from her tree series and wetlands project was published in the “The Art of Conservation, An International Exhibit Of Nature in Art”, Artists for Conservation Foundation, in association with Heliconia Press, Inc., Beachburg, Ontario,2010. She was also a finalist in the Natural Resource Defense Council’s Environmental Art Prize . That work was exhibited at the Nabi Gallery, NYC.
“Peranakan Tree”,48” x 48”, Oil on Canvas,2010, Natural resource Defense Council Environmental Art prize Finalist.

She also has a work from Art vs Oil spill featured on Zazzle. Proceeds from that piece are donated to wildlife rehabilitation efforts from the B.P. Oil disaster 2010.
“Louisiana Walrus”, Art VS. Oil Spill, Watercolor and digital 7” x9”, 2010

Currently she also has a Sketchbook project on traveling exhibition. You can follow this on Arthouse Coop main,, Arthouse coop my link, . The current tour dates are,June 16-18, 2011, Madrone Studios, San Francisco, CA,July 14-17, 2011 ,Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL ,July 29-31, 2011 Full Sail University, Winter Park, FL.

Selection from “ Its Reigning Cats and Dogs”. Pen and ink, 2010

She says her teaching definitely affected some of the direction of her research.”Because I was teaching people with a very wide range of experience or ability it caused me to re examine the way drawing is normally taught in the college environment. Some of my students were film, photography, or interactive design majors with often with no drawing experience. The animation, viscom, or product design majors needed a different diet of drawing practice. My own personal experience with these digitally oriented practices, outside of illustration or comics, was pretty much non- existent before then”. In that sense I definitely learned a lot from my students and felt there was an “in it together” attitude in the instructional arena. It gave me an opportunity to re investigate a way of drawing that I had departed from for a good 20 years. When I got out of college in the 80’s, tightly realistic work was definitely not encouraged. Conceptualism was favoured over observational skill. There has often been an attitude that having skill somehow precludes thinking.
Nor was there much of an emphasis on the hand drawn perspective courses that could be found in industrial design. That attitude is finally changing. By gathering feedback from my students I was able to create courses that could touch on the specific needs of the technological arts along with aesthetic considerations. The root of it is still training in perceptual skill combined with analytical thinking to produce opened ended results.

Observational drawings graphite 2009-2010
Now that Bridget is back in Connecticut, she has re-opened her studio in Watertown, Ct. Her core interest is to teach an appreciation of the environment and develop creativity through training in perceptual practice. She hopes that the space will develop as a community center for an integration of Nature and Culture. The platform for this integration will be exhibition, both physical and virtual, lectures, workshops, or formal instruction In the past she has curated invitational exhibitions and open studio events as the Porter Street Artist Collective. Her husband Jay Foster will be teaching Music and audio/visual technology workshops in the adjoining space. This has expanded the exhibition space two fold. She has students and has a few more openings, and although she has a primarily adult classes listed now ,she will be accepting all ages in the near future. Her Singaporean students’ work is also included on her blog

Bridget is continuing to work on audio/visual collaborations with her husband, multi media artist, Jay Foster. We have been working on some short animations involving Bestiaries, genetic modification, beavers, and some good old fashioned silliness.:) That will be coming soon.
Bt Bat Cat Avenger, graphite, pen and ink, digital collage, animation work in progress.

Teaching website

Artwork/visual research

Sound and audio

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bridget Grady MFA '04

Bridget spent 4 1/2 years in Singapore teaching art. I interviewed her last week to find out what's next and to hear about what she has done since graduation. The results will be posted here!

Bridget's blog:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Joe DiGuiseppi '02

Joe was featured in the Sunday Chat with Deb Keiser in the News Times on June 5th. Joe spoke about his murals throughout the Danbury community. His last answer was a question about anything hidden or secret in the murals. Joe admitted that he hides dragons in there! He added, "They are always a little bit different, but there is always a dragon." The NewsTimes

Current murals in the greater Danbury area include a mural on a deli wall in Newtown painted when he was 18, two murals at the Greenknoll YMCA in Brookfield, the back parking lot wall for Escape to the Arts, and Danbury's Kennedy Park building which features "Three Worlds", depicting Main Street Danbury, nature and the river as it's people.

In 2009 Joe did a mural for Union Savings on Main Street and most recently a Cityscapes on Crosby Street. Click here to see the article about the Crosby Street mural from August 2010.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ron Lawlor '93

Ron Lawlor, a 1993 graduate in graphic design, owns R.E. Lawlor Graphics & Printing, a Bethel company that has been a local leader in creative design, printing, advertising and more for over 22 years. His family business offers friendly, prompt service at the most competitive prices. Stop by and see for yourself the R.E. Lawlor family difference.

R.E. Lawlor offers:
*Designs - Doing it all, from concept to completion, so you can focus on more important tasks. Our design team consists of dedicated, creative artists with professional degrees in art and design with years of real world experience

*A full service printing company with craftsmen who take great pride in their work.

*Advertising locally

*Web designs by R.E. Lawlor ensures that you will receive a professional and unique design, simple enough to navigate but distinct and attention grabbing.

*Fund drive mailers for non-profit organizations to provide a high profile, low pressure way to raise money.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Terry Laslo '07 Wingcat Web Design

Terry Laslo, graduated in 2005 from Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC) with an AS in Digital Arts/Web, and in 2007 from WCSU with a BA in Graphic Design. Starting Wingcat Web Design, LLC in 2002, she is dedicated to providing custom web sites and cohesive marketing materials to showcase small businesses. Using input from the client and her experience, the web site, email marketing, and social media products are developed to establish an on-line presence, reach the target audience, and promote the name, brand and image that the client needs.

Laslo loves the fact that she never knows what type of business or organization she will be working on next – it could be anything from bedbug sniffing dogs to home builders, to bat removal, but a favorite is always working on sites for other artists. Some of these include

· Kate McGloughlin, Painter & Printmaker |

· Doreen Minuto, Illustration |

· Caroline Harman, Painter |

· Elisabeth Madden, Painter |

· Judy York, Illustration |

· Rita VanHorn, Portrait Painter |

· Sandra Bordes, Pet Portraits |

Terry designed the website for BUCK, winner of the 2011 Sundance Audience Appreciation award for documentary directed by Connecticut’s Cindy Meehl. It's opening June 17th across the country, and can be seen locally at the Bethel Cinema on July 1st.

Two sites she is particularly proud of were not for clients but to raise awareness about Hawleyville, the section of Newtown where she lives.

· Hawleyville Post Office. The site went up on January 24, 2009 after learning the post office was closing for good. Terry joined Ann Marie Mitchell and other neighbors in the fight to keep this post office open in Hawleyville. With the help of Congressman Murphy and others, a brand new facility opened March 15, 2010.

· HEAT. The site went up in May 2009 response to the Housatonic Railroad’s expansion of an unregulated waste transfer station on top of the Pond Brook aquifer in Hawleyville. The neighborhood grassroots group’s effort has brought it to the attention of the media, DEP and State lawmakers, resulting in passage of legislation (Senate Bill 124) that protects aquifers in Connecticut.

Terry has been teaching the Intro to Graphic Design class at NVCC for the past four years, and was recently presented (May 12, 2011) with an adjunct faculty award recognizing “subject matter expertise and dedication to students and commitment to NVCC”.

Laslo is on the Board of Directors for the Newtown Parent Connection, Inc., a grassroots organization that addresses the problem of substance use and abuse among young people in the community, and Stony Hill Four Corners, a Hawleyville / Stony Hill business association dedicated to giving back to the community.

Terry can be reached by email at or 203-426-5301.

Facebook and LinkedIn

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A change in the format

The next interview (our production team at WestConn) is now being created - perfect word for Art Views - and I want everyone to continue checking the blog in between these exciting interviews.

So ---- my newest, latest and greatest idea is that I will be featuring all of you, the art graduates of WestConn, between the longer interviews of art graduates of WestConn. I will provide a short paragraph of your businesses, studios, artistic endeavers but not calendar items and highlights these will stay on the news). I will include a link and a picture and something about your everyday works.

Check back regularly as I begin this new venture.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mat Gonzales, '86 - artist, designer and more

Matang Gonzales, aka. Mat, artist, designer, husband and father of an eleven year old boy, Alex, and an eight year old girl, Haley, graduated from Western CT State University with a degree in graphic design in 1986. He is a fine artist and painted or sculpted his way through school in the new art program being offered at the University at that time. Mat then took his newly honed drawing skills and ability to create and design, and made his mark.

After graduation, Mat had several artist apprenticeships, most influentially with James Grashow of Redding CT. He began illustrating for the New York Times and having exhibitions of his work. He had several major shows in NYC, and a received a favorable review in the New York Times. He eventually came back to WestConn to take part in Reflections, the alumni show at Ruth Haas Library in 2002.

After a few years, Mat knew he had to enter the corporate art world to start making more money and provide for his family. He began a new venture with Stage Fright Studios in Watertown, CT. He started as a designer and was soon promoted to Art Director. Here he produced elaborate special effects for the scare industry and assisted in the development, creation, installation and management of several haunted venues in the US.

He went on to work as a designer at Design Innovation in Avon, CT. He was part of an elite team of talented industrial designers that created consumer items, specializing in toys and infant products. Mat was responsible for concept renderings, presentations, technical layouts, packaging, graphics, breadboards, models, prototypes, molds and sculpture for several major accounts including Fisher Price. Mat said he was trained in industrial design while at Design Innovation. He learned to draw in the "style" using sweeps, curves and ellipse templates. While at D.I., he developed a unique and successful magnetic play set.

He went on to become a product designer at Amscan. Here he worked with a variety of materials and provided concept renderings, 3-D models, illustration, design and control drawings for a broad range of consumer products, party supplies, giftware and packaging. He added that some of his designs are still sold in stores at Halloween or Christmas.

He moved on to a position as Design Director of ToyBiz/Marvel Toys at Marvel Entertainment in New York City. He created toys for a wide range of Marvel and other licensed characters, including some of the most detailed and articulated action figures in the industry. His designs always start with a hand drawn concept rendering which he then scans into the computer for color and specs. Once the design leaves his hands, it becomes the company’s property and design limits are in play due to costs and other variables.

The commute was starting to get to him though. He left for work before the kids got up in the morning and returned home when it was almost time for bed. After Marvel was taken over by Hasbro, Mat’s department was cut and then cut again. The interns were able to keep them working for a while but then his entire team was gone. He relied on interns and freelance workers. Mat added that he had Finn Tornquist working as a freelance artist. He felt funny being Finn’s Director but added that Finn is an amazing artist and was a former industrial designer at Raymond Loewy International. Mat watched Finn use his skills to create designs and thought he was amazing. Mat said Finn became a mentor to him. "Every time I watched him, I learned something". Mat added, "Marvel was a challenging experience as there are so many creative people, each trying to make their mark. Sometimes there are too many cooks in the kitchen. I was fortunate because my department relied heavily on drawing skills to design product and was really the only department to have this creative freedom. All of the comic art is now created by freelance artists".

Before he worked corporate Mat joined the CT Commission On The Arts as a "Master Teaching Artist". He taught art and 3-D design workshops in schools around CT. "In one workshop, I had students cut and build upon triangular panels, and then paint them with florescent paint. We then took the panels and created two geodesic domes, one inside the other. It was huge as you could go inside both of them. We illuminated the project, inside and out, with several banks of black lights. The final presentation was awesome". He added that he missed teaching.

He is now freelancing and is able to make a living building on the many contacts he made in New York. He still does graphic design and illustration, conceptual design and renderings, control art and packaging. Currently, he is working on a set, building a large pirate ship in Sleepy Hollow, New York, as part of a pirate festival. Several months earlier, he was hired to do a 12” action figure of the Johnny Depp character, Jack Black, for Pirates 4 and said, “I must be in a pirate phase.”

He added, “for me, it’s all in the process when doing a job. I love the conceptual work, in the beginning, before everyone else gets involved with their costs and their changes. Certain clients, like Disney for example, have so many people involved and they all have their own ideas and want to make their mark on a product. [ A commercial artist] cannot take any changes personally. It is very rare that a design is not changed. "I like rendering the art by hand, scanning it in and adding color via PhotoShop. It's important to create files that can be easily reworked. I’ve been working on a winter play set for Tinkerbell. I treated the initial concept as a piece of fine art, and carefully rendered it as I would like to see the final product. I scan it and send the digital file. I get to keep the original art. Next week my work will be taken apart and it won’t be mine anymore."

Mat said, "I’ve done two jobs in the past couple of weeks where I comped the fonts by hand just as we learned in Mr Wallace's typography class. Then I went through my fonts and found styles that matched my drawings. This method of typography has become a lost art. I remember Diane Golden’s old type setting machine – it took up half the room."

At home, besides his family, and the many activities that his children are involved in, Mat loves music and has played music since he was eight. He sometimes plays guitar with friends but most of the time just to relax. He has his instruments stored in part of his studio, which he built across the street from his home. It's an old blacksmith shop from 1800 that he continues to repair, rebuild and restore. He has room for all his computers, his painting, tools and even some storage space.

Other accomplishments include several murals, one at Land Rover of Darien, a variety of installations, and a sculpture of a large tree and jumping jack rabbits for the Russian Tea Room. He did this while employed as the head sculptor at an architectural fabrication company.

Mat is now deciding whether to return to corporate. He has an offer but is hesitant to give up the independence as a freelancer. He adds, “Marvel was amazing, the creative environment was great, but the day was long and I do not miss the commute.”

He studied Feng Shui with a master for ten years and this has a serious affect on all life decisions. This should be a big life decision.

Mat showed me notebooks full of pictures of his works, toys, concepts, figures and more. I've included a few here, and I have added more to the WestConn alumni site click here to see the diversity of Mat's work.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Artist Views Introduction

I've come up with another idea to highlight the amazing people who graduate from the WestConn Art program. I plan on interviewing all of you at some point to include in this blog. I will alternate medium and will include everyone. Please contact me if you want to be up first. I have no set schedule and look forward to talking with each of you.